How 3-D Printing is Revolutionizing the Display of Big Data

9. October 2014

Date: 09-10-2014
Source: Technology Review

3D Big DataIf you’ve ever struggled to make sense of an information firehose, perhaps a 3-D printed model could help.

One of the characteristics of our increasingly information-driven lives is the huge amounts of data being generated about everything from sporting activities and Twitter comments to genetic patterns and disease predictions. These information firehoses are generally known as “big data,” and with them come the grand challenge of making sense of the material they produce.

That’s no small task. The Twitter stream alone produces some 500 million tweets a day. This has to be filtered, analyzed for interesting trends, and then displayed in a way that humans can make sense of quickly.

It is this last task of data display that Zachary Weber and Vijay Gadepally have taken on at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, Massachusetts. They say that combining big data with 3-D printing can dramatically improve the way people consume and understand data on a massive scale.

They make their argument using the example of a 3-D printed model of the MIT campus, which they created using a laser ranging device to measure the buildings. They used this data to build a 3-D model of the campus which they printed out in translucent plastic using standard 3-D printing techniques.

One advantage of the translucent plastic is that it can be illuminated from beneath with different colors. Indeed, the team used a projector connected to a laptop computer to beam an image on the model from below. The image above shows the campus colored according to the height of the buildings.

But that’s only the beginning of what they say is possible. To demonstrate, Weber and Gadepally filtered a portion of the Twitter stream to pick out tweets that were geolocated at the MIT campus. They can then use their model to show what kind of content is being generated in different locations on the campus and allow users to cut and dice the data using an interactive screen. “Other demonstrations may include animating twitter traffic volume as a function of time and space to provide insight into campus patterns or life,” they say.
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Dr. Doris Drucker, 1911 – 2014

9. October 2014

Doris Schmitz Drucker,Doris Drucker the widow of Peter F. Drucker, passed away peacefully on October 1, aged 103. Our thoughts are with her daughters, her son and her grandchildren.

Doris Drucker’s endorsement was essential for the launch of the Global Peter Drucker Forum in Vienna as an annual event. Doris made it clear to us from the outset that she did not want to see the Forum in a memorial capacity for Peter Drucker but rather as building on his thinking and moving beyond it – in view of the new challenges of our time. As a visible support to our endeavours she accepted in 2012 to become the Honorary President of the Peter Drucker Society Europe. We are deeply grateful to her for the trust she put in us.

Please find below the links to the tribute for Doris by the Drucker School and the Drucker Institute, the video with her acclaimed speech at the Centennial Drucker Forum in 2009 in Vienna and the opening messages to the Forums 2011, 2012, 2013.

We will miss Doris. However, her encouragement and her commitment to a genuine human oriented management philosophy as envisioned by Peter Drucker will continue to inspire us.

Richard Straub
Peter Drucker Society Europe